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'Having Dhoni inside dressing room brings sense of calm'

Last updated on: October 19, 2021 20:46 IST
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'We loved having him in the dressing room when he was the captain, we loved the calmness. We have all looked up to him to help us out, to have him here is amazing'

IMAGE: Captain Virat Kohli and Team mentor Mahendra Singh Dhoni before the warm-up against England on Monday. Photograph: Indiancricketteam/Twitter

India batter KL Rahul on Tuesday said having Mahendra Singh Dhoni as a mentor for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup gives a sense of calmness in the team, while he is looking forward to picking the brains of the former Indian skipper on all things cricket.

India will open their T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan on October 24 at the Dubai International Stadium.

 

Dhoni had led the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to their fourth IPL title this year after the Chennai-based franchise defeated Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the summit clash.

"None of us are sure that IPL 2021 final was his last game. I do not think, I would love to see MS Dhoni play for a lot more years if he could. Yeah, it was great to see how CSK played in the tournament and they were the most deserving to win it. Obviously, MS Dhoni back with the team feels amazing because we have played under him and we have looked towards him as a mentor even when he was our captain," said Rahul during a Clubhouse session organised by Red Bull on Tuesday.

"We loved having him in the dressing room when he was the captain, we loved the calmness. We have all looked up to him to help us out, to have him here is amazing. This gives us a sense of calmness. I have enjoyed spending time with him in the first two to three days and it has been a lot of fun. Looking forward to chewing his brain about cricket, captaincy and all things cricket," he added.

Talking about the fitness of Dhoni, Rahul said: "I think Dhoni can give any of us stiff competition, he definitely is a guy who can hit the ball furthest, he is very strong and he is good between the wickets. He looks the fittest, it is good fun to have him."

India defeated England by seven wickets in the warm-up fixture on Monday and Rahul starred with the bat as he played a knock of 51 runs. Ishan Kishan was also a bright spot as he played a knock of 70 runs.

"Very excited, obviously, World Cup is a big event and every player looks forward to it and every player is training all year round to play this tournament. The World Cup was supposed to be played last year, but it was pushed and it has given a lot more time to think about the best combination and try and get everything right and make a huge impact and win the tournament. 2019 World Cup semis loss did hurt the team a lot and hopefully, we can use that to push ourselves a lot more and try and win the tournament," said Rahul.

'Playing consistently has helped me. The six-seven IPL games have helped us adapt to the conditions. The experience of playing in UAE last year helped me know what shots to play and will put me in good stead in preparing for the upcoming World Cup'

IMAGE: 'Playing consistently has helped me. The six-seven IPL games have helped us adapt to the conditions. The experience of playing in UAE last year helped me know what shots to play and will put me in good stead in preparing for the upcoming World Cup'. Photograph: BCCI

Rahul has been one of the most consistent T20 performers for India with astounding figures of 659, 593, 670, 626 in last four editions of IPL.

Also the fact that last one and half editions have been played in the UAE and the stylish right-hand batter has been hugely successful, makes him confident of a good show.

"Playing consistently has helped me. The six-seven IPL games have helped us adapt to the conditions. The experience of playing in UAE last year helped me know what shots to play and will put me in good stead in preparing for the upcoming World Cup," said the opener.

But bubble-life is taking its toll, he agreed.

Rahul, like most of the senior players, has been in a bio-bubble since month of June and it is also his seventh confined environment in past 13 months starting with the IPL in UAE in 2020, followed by Australia tour (till he left due to injury), England home series, IPL in India (few weeks break), World Test Championship bubble (3 week break), England Test series and now second half of IPL, followed by the World Cup bubble.

"The bubble is really hard. It was all okay when it started with the IPL in 2020. We came out of five months of no cricket so we were excited to just play cricket. But the bio bubbles have been going on for so long that it is really hard," Rahul stated.

However, the positive side of bubble, according to him, is getting to know his teammates better as there is very little in-person interaction with outside world in the post-Covid times.

"The bubbles have gotten the team a lot closer because we spend a lot of time together and can't interact with others. We try to do what best we can in the bubble. I am hanging out with Hardik's son mostly; I love kids and love playing with kids."

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